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Patriots attemp to keep focus on Redskins


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Patriots Attempt to Keep Focus on Redskins

(Sports Network) - Every NFL observer, from the casual fan to the ardent numbers-cruncher, knows that the New England Patriots and their record-setting offense will soon face a stiff test.

But while most are looking expectantly towards next week's Patriots-Colts showdown, the Washington Redskins could give Tom Brady and company a run for their money one week ahead of schedule.

The 4-2 Skins, who visit Gillette Stadium on Sunday, won't keep up long if New England gets anywhere close to its NFL-best 39.9 points per game. But with only five touchdown passes allowed on the year, just one off the league lead, and with a high-quality secondary that has Washington ranking eighth in the NFL against the pass (196.2 yards per game), the Redskins could offer more resistance to the New England juggernaut than have most.

Thus far, the Patriots have rolled through opponents at a flag football-like pace.

Brady has thrown an astounding 27 TD passes versus two interceptions in his first seven games of the year, contests that New England has won by a minimum of 17 points while scoring at least 34 in each outing. Last Sunday, Brady threw five first-half touchdowns to build a 42-7 lead at Miami, before the Patriots coasted to a 49-28 win. The victory helped the Pats to their first 7-0 start in team history.

In comparison to their Week 8 opponent, the Redskins have achieved only modest success thus far, but one season removed from a 5-11 disaster, their progress has been more than encouraging.

Washington held on for a 21-19 win over Arizona last Sunday, a victory that helped Joe Gibbs' squad remain within striking distance of Dallas (6-1) and the New York Giants (5-2) in the NFC East.

With a win Sunday, the Redskins will have posted their best seven-game start since the 2000 campaign.

SERIES HISTORY

The Redskins have a 6-1 advantage in their all-time series with the Patriots, including a 20-17 home win when the teams last met, in 2003. Washington also won in its last trip to Foxborough, a 27-22 victory in 1996, and is 4-1 all- time in series road games. New England's only win in the series was the first installment, a 24-23 triumph at home in 1972.

Gibbs is 3-0 against the Patriots in his career. The Patriots' Bill Belichick is 0-2 against Washington all-time, including 0-1 since coming to New England in 2000, and is 0-1 head-to-head versus Gibbs.

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

The Redskins are one week removed from their weakest offensive showing of the season, as they managed just 160 total yards and 10 first downs in their win over the Cardinals. Quarterback Jason Campbell's 95 passing yards were his fewest in 13 career NFL starts, and running back Clinton Portis (406 rushing yards, 5 TD, 14 receptions) scored both Washington touchdowns but came up well short of the first 100-yard rushing game by a Redskin this season. For the year, the Skins are just 25th in the league in total offense (304.5 yards per game) and passing offense (189.8 yards per game). Though Washington's offensive approach will likely be to establish the running game and keep the ball out of Brady's hands as much as possible, some production from wide receivers Santana Moss (14 receptions), Antwaan Randle El (23 receptions), and tight end Chris Cooley (20 receptions, 4 TD) would be welcome. Neither Randle El nor Moss has a touchdown yet in 2007. An injury-depleted offensive line has done a decent job of protecting Campbell (1181 passing yards, 5 TD, 5 INT), who has been sacked just nine times on the year.

The play of the New England offense has in part overshadowed a defense that is fourth in the league overall (274.9 yards per game) and has allowed very few meaningful points. The objective of stopping Portis will fall to a Patriots front seven led by end Ty Warren (20 tackles, 2 sacks) and nose tackle Vince Wilfork (18 tackles, 1 sack) in the trenches, with inside linebackers Adalius Thomas (36 tackles, 1 INT, 0.5 sacks) and Tedy Bruschi (38 tackles, 2 sacks) making plays behind them. Bruschi had a game-high 12 tackles against Miami. The Pats have also been strong against the pass, ranking in a tie for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions and also finding the league Top 10 with 19 sacks thus far. Cornerback Asante Samuel (14 tackles, 3 INT) and nickel linebacker Junior Seau (29 tackles, 3 INT, 1 sack) are tied for the team lead in INTs, while outside linebacker Mike Vrabel (28 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and end Jarvis Green (18 tackles, 3 sacks) have been New England's best pass rushers. Pro Bowl end Richard Seymour (knee) has practiced this week but might not be ready to make a formal return to the lineup after beginning the year on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL

Brady's eye-popping 2007 numbers (2125 passing yards, 27 TD, 2 INT, 137.8 passer rating) have come as a direct result of the presence of first-year Patriot targets Randy Moss (44 receptions, 10 TD), Wes Welker (47 receptions, 5 TD), and Donte' Stallworth (22 receptions, 3 TD), all of whom might be headed to the Pro Bowl when all is said and done. Moss leads the NFL in touchdowns and looks set to make a run at Jerry Rice's NFL single-season record of 22 TD receptions (set in only 12 games) in 1987. Welker has 20 receptions, 262 yards, and four touchdowns in his past two games combined, and Stallworth has shaken off a slow start to score in each of his past three contests. The Redskins will have to handle that trio as well as tight ends Benjamin Watson (18 receptions, 5 TD) and Kyle Brady (6 receptions, 2 TD), who have combined for seven touchdown catches in their own right on the year. Watson will be attempting to battle back from an ankle injury that kept him out last week versus Miami. The prolific passing game has been aided by great protection of Brady, who has been sacked just seven times all year. If New England has an offensive weakness, it is a running game that ranks "only" seventh in the league (133.4 yards per game) and accrued just 84 yards on 22 carries against Miami last week. Running back Laurence Maroney (283 rushing yards), returning to the lineup after a three-week absence, had a quiet day with 31 yards on six carries.

The Redskins' 4-2 start has a great deal to do with the work of a defense that ranks fifth overall (276.8 yards per game) and is surrendering the third- fewest points (14.7 per game) in the league. Safety Sean Taylor (24 tackles) has been the unit's big-play guy, notching all of his NFL-leading five interceptions in the last four games. The Pro Bowler will have to lend assistance to cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (23 tackles, 1 INT) and Shawn Springs (24 tackles), who figure to have their hands full with New England's talented wideouts. Taylor picked off the Cardinals' Kurt Warner once last week, but it was linebacker London Fletcher's 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter that struck the big blow. Fletcher (52 tackles, 2 INT) had a game-high 13 tackles in the win, and fellow LB Rocky McIntosh (51 tackles) and rookie safety LaRon Landry (35 tackles, 0.5 sacks) chipped in with nine each. Defensive end Andre Carter (25 tackles, 5 sacks) has nearly one-third of Washington's 16 sacks on the year thus far, including one of Warner last week.

FANTASY FOCUS

If you have an offensive starter on the New England roster, you're starting him, with the possible exception of the banged-up Watson. A play-making Patriots defense and kicker Stephen Gostkowski are also no-brainer fantasy starts. Washington has two sure-fire fantasy starters - Cooley and the Redskins defense - and everyone else looks like backup material. Portis' ability to score touchdowns makes him worth a look, but he hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game yet and probably won't get many scoring opportunities against a strong New England defense.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Will the Patriots be looking ahead? That question will be on the minds of many trying to predict the outcome of this game, and the short answer is "yes." New England's players and head coach will say all the right things during the week, but it seems only natural that some on the roster will have an eye toward what could be a monumental showdown with Indianapolis. Also problematic for the Patriots is the fact that they will be playing the toughest defense they've seen to date, and won't have things as easy as they did against the Jets, Bengals, Browns, and Dolphins of the world. Still, the Pats have the talent on both sides of the football to win this game by double digits, even if it takes four full quarters to put Washington away. A lack of offensive punch will eventually doom the Redskins, who also can't be expected to play perfect defensive football for four quarters on the road.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Patriots 27, Redskins 16

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Patriots Attempt to Keep Focus on Redskins

(Sports Network) - Every NFL observer, from the casual fan to the ardent numbers-cruncher, knows that the New England Patriots and their record-setting offense will soon face a stiff test.

But while most are looking expectantly towards next week's Patriots-Colts showdown, the Washington Redskins could give Tom Brady and company a run for their money one week ahead of schedule.

The 4-2 Skins, who visit Gillette Stadium on Sunday, won't keep up long if New England gets anywhere close to its NFL-best 39.9 points per game. But with only five touchdown passes allowed on the year, just one off the league lead, and with a high-quality secondary that has Washington ranking eighth in the NFL against the pass (196.2 yards per game), the Redskins could offer more resistance to the New England juggernaut than have most.

Thus far, the Patriots have rolled through opponents at a flag football-like pace.

Brady has thrown an astounding 27 TD passes versus two interceptions in his first seven games of the year, contests that New England has won by a minimum of 17 points while scoring at least 34 in each outing. Last Sunday, Brady threw five first-half touchdowns to build a 42-7 lead at Miami, before the Patriots coasted to a 49-28 win. The victory helped the Pats to their first 7-0 start in team history.

In comparison to their Week 8 opponent, the Redskins have achieved only modest success thus far, but one season removed from a 5-11 disaster, their progress has been more than encouraging.

Washington held on for a 21-19 win over Arizona last Sunday, a victory that helped Joe Gibbs' squad remain within striking distance of Dallas (6-1) and the New York Giants (5-2) in the NFC East.

With a win Sunday, the Redskins will have posted their best seven-game start since the 2000 campaign.

SERIES HISTORY

The Redskins have a 6-1 advantage in their all-time series with the Patriots, including a 20-17 home win when the teams last met, in 2003. Washington also won in its last trip to Foxborough, a 27-22 victory in 1996, and is 4-1 all- time in series road games. New England's only win in the series was the first installment, a 24-23 triumph at home in 1972.

Gibbs is 3-0 against the Patriots in his career. The Patriots' Bill Belichick is 0-2 against Washington all-time, including 0-1 since coming to New England in 2000, and is 0-1 head-to-head versus Gibbs.

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

The Redskins are one week removed from their weakest offensive showing of the season, as they managed just 160 total yards and 10 first downs in their win over the Cardinals. Quarterback Jason Campbell's 95 passing yards were his fewest in 13 career NFL starts, and running back Clinton Portis (406 rushing yards, 5 TD, 14 receptions) scored both Washington touchdowns but came up well short of the first 100-yard rushing game by a Redskin this season. For the year, the Skins are just 25th in the league in total offense (304.5 yards per game) and passing offense (189.8 yards per game). Though Washington's offensive approach will likely be to establish the running game and keep the ball out of Brady's hands as much as possible, some production from wide receivers Santana Moss (14 receptions), Antwaan Randle El (23 receptions), and tight end Chris Cooley (20 receptions, 4 TD) would be welcome. Neither Randle El nor Moss has a touchdown yet in 2007. An injury-depleted offensive line has done a decent job of protecting Campbell (1181 passing yards, 5 TD, 5 INT), who has been sacked just nine times on the year.

The play of the New England offense has in part overshadowed a defense that is fourth in the league overall (274.9 yards per game) and has allowed very few meaningful points. The objective of stopping Portis will fall to a Patriots front seven led by end Ty Warren (20 tackles, 2 sacks) and nose tackle Vince Wilfork (18 tackles, 1 sack) in the trenches, with inside linebackers Adalius Thomas (36 tackles, 1 INT, 0.5 sacks) and Tedy Bruschi (38 tackles, 2 sacks) making plays behind them. Bruschi had a game-high 12 tackles against Miami. The Pats have also been strong against the pass, ranking in a tie for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions and also finding the league Top 10 with 19 sacks thus far. Cornerback Asante Samuel (14 tackles, 3 INT) and nickel linebacker Junior Seau (29 tackles, 3 INT, 1 sack) are tied for the team lead in INTs, while outside linebacker Mike Vrabel (28 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and end Jarvis Green (18 tackles, 3 sacks) have been New England's best pass rushers. Pro Bowl end Richard Seymour (knee) has practiced this week but might not be ready to make a formal return to the lineup after beginning the year on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) list.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL

Brady's eye-popping 2007 numbers (2125 passing yards, 27 TD, 2 INT, 137.8 passer rating) have come as a direct result of the presence of first-year Patriot targets Randy Moss (44 receptions, 10 TD), Wes Welker (47 receptions, 5 TD), and Donte' Stallworth (22 receptions, 3 TD), all of whom might be headed to the Pro Bowl when all is said and done. Moss leads the NFL in touchdowns and looks set to make a run at Jerry Rice's NFL single-season record of 22 TD receptions (set in only 12 games) in 1987. Welker has 20 receptions, 262 yards, and four touchdowns in his past two games combined, and Stallworth has shaken off a slow start to score in each of his past three contests. The Redskins will have to handle that trio as well as tight ends Benjamin Watson (18 receptions, 5 TD) and Kyle Brady (6 receptions, 2 TD), who have combined for seven touchdown catches in their own right on the year. Watson will be attempting to battle back from an ankle injury that kept him out last week versus Miami. The prolific passing game has been aided by great protection of Brady, who has been sacked just seven times all year. If New England has an offensive weakness, it is a running game that ranks "only" seventh in the league (133.4 yards per game) and accrued just 84 yards on 22 carries against Miami last week. Running back Laurence Maroney (283 rushing yards), returning to the lineup after a three-week absence, had a quiet day with 31 yards on six carries.

The Redskins' 4-2 start has a great deal to do with the work of a defense that ranks fifth overall (276.8 yards per game) and is surrendering the third- fewest points (14.7 per game) in the league. Safety Sean Taylor (24 tackles) has been the unit's big-play guy, notching all of his NFL-leading five interceptions in the last four games. The Pro Bowler will have to lend assistance to cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (23 tackles, 1 INT) and Shawn Springs (24 tackles), who figure to have their hands full with New England's talented wideouts. Taylor picked off the Cardinals' Kurt Warner once last week, but it was linebacker London Fletcher's 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter that struck the big blow. Fletcher (52 tackles, 2 INT) had a game-high 13 tackles in the win, and fellow LB Rocky McIntosh (51 tackles) and rookie safety LaRon Landry (35 tackles, 0.5 sacks) chipped in with nine each. Defensive end Andre Carter (25 tackles, 5 sacks) has nearly one-third of Washington's 16 sacks on the year thus far, including one of Warner last week.

FANTASY FOCUS

If you have an offensive starter on the New England roster, you're starting him, with the possible exception of the banged-up Watson. A play-making Patriots defense and kicker Stephen Gostkowski are also no-brainer fantasy starts. Washington has two sure-fire fantasy starters - Cooley and the Redskins defense - and everyone else looks like backup material. Portis' ability to score touchdowns makes him worth a look, but he hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game yet and probably won't get many scoring opportunities against a strong New England defense.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Will the Patriots be looking ahead? That question will be on the minds of many trying to predict the outcome of this game, and the short answer is "yes." New England's players and head coach will say all the right things during the week, but it seems only natural that some on the roster will have an eye toward what could be a monumental showdown with Indianapolis. Also problematic for the Patriots is the fact that they will be playing the toughest defense they've seen to date, and won't have things as easy as they did against the Jets, Bengals, Browns, and Dolphins of the world. Still, the Pats have the talent on both sides of the football to win this game by double digits, even if it takes four full quarters to put Washington away. A lack of offensive punch will eventually doom the Redskins, who also can't be expected to play perfect defensive football for four quarters on the road.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Patriots 27, Redskins 16

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The thing about the Patriots is, they're so good that they can look ahead but still win the game at hand. It's up to us to show them it's a mistake to do so, and we have the defense to do it.

What's really obnoxious is the way the media is playing up the Colts-Patriots game. Everyone has assumed that both teams will be undefeated when they play eachother.....they have given this weekend's games no thought. Christ how I hope the Skins win just to **** the media over.

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The thing about the Patriots is, they're so good that they can look ahead but still win the game at hand. It's up to us to show them it's a mistake to do so, and we have the defense to do it.

What's really obnoxious is the way the media is playing up the Colts-Patriots game. Everyone has assumed that both teams will be undefeated when they play eachother.....they have given this weekend's games no thought. Christ how I hope the Skins win just to **** the media over.

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I hope indy and ne both lose that would f*ck up the hype machine

It could possibly happen, I'm sure that the Panthers is sick and tired of hearing about the Patriots/Colts match up as well and tired of hearing they can't win this game against the Colts.

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I hope indy and ne both lose that would f*ck up the hype machine

It could possibly happen, I'm sure that the Panthers is sick and tired of hearing about the Patriots/Colts match up as well and tired of hearing they can't win this game against the Colts.

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The odd thing about the matchups before the HUGE undefeated showdown the media is hyping up is this.... Brady has beaten every team except the Redskins, and Manning has beaten every team but the Panthers. I just found that really really odd. I hope they both stay winless against their opponents this weekend.

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The odd thing about the matchups before the HUGE undefeated showdown the media is hyping up is this.... Brady has beaten every team except the Redskins, and Manning has beaten every team but the Panthers. I just found that really really odd. I hope they both stay winless against their opponents this weekend.

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